Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.

CD Review: Dixie Melody Boys – Have You Heard

October 04, 2013 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Dixie Melody Boys, SG Music

Rating: 5 stars

Producers: David Staton & Dirk Johnson
Label: Song Garden Music Group
Website: www.dixiemelodyboys.com

Song titles: Praise The Lord Hallelujah Amen; What I Lost In The Flood; Roll Back; When I Called His Name; God’s Gonna Give You A Testimony; Valley of Tears; Muddy Water; What Remains Of Me; Rhythm of Heaven; Death Has Died; That Story Is Mine; Haven Called Heaven

When it comes to comeback stories in Southern Gospel music, one can certainly point to the Dixie Melody Boys as a prime example. Just a couple of years ago, almost anyone who followed the music may have told you that the group was one with a rich heritage in this genre, but was heading off into the sunset of their careers. It looked like the Ed O’Neal University was probably going to close its doors for good.

Then came the group’s 50th Anniversary. A change in personnel and the release of a celebratory project fittingly entitled The Call Is Still The Same kicked off the biggest turnaround for a group’s direction in recent memory. The quartet hasn’t stopped since then, and this latest CD finds them at an interesting point in their history.

Since the last album, the group has seen baritone Steven Cooper step down from his vocal role due to voice problems and take a seat behind the soundboard, with an occasional bass guitar appearance. Filling his role, as well as playing piano on select songs, is Aaron Dishman, a fresh face to most fans. Lead singer Donald Morris came off the road and Mike Rogers stepped in. He had all but completed his contribution to this project when he left to join Brian Free & Assurance, and Florida Boys alum Josh Garner was eventually picked as the new lead. With so many changes in the lineup, this project has the daunting task of continuing the group’s positive trajectory, while also establishing an almost brand-new vocal sound.

The Dixie Melody Boys tread new musical ground here as far as their catalog is concerned. Songs like “What I Lost In The Flood,” “God’s Gonna Give You A Testimony,” and “Rhythm of Heaven” are progressive enough to set themselves apart from other things the group has done, while still falling solidly in the quartet tradition they have established. There is still plenty of straight-up traditional fare here, such as the country-flavored “When I Called His Name,” the fast-paced “That Story Is Mine,” and the Rodney Griffin and Joseph Habedank ballad “Valley of Tears,” which features newcomer Dishman.

Did you ever think that the Dixie Melody Boys would cover a big, orchestrated Cathedrals ballad? Take a listen to their revival of the underrated “Death Has Died.” Another pleasant surprise is Ed O’Neal’s solo feature. His work on “What Remains Of Me” makes the song a prime choice for a radio single.

The Dixie Melody Boys have produced a collection of music that is another solid step in the right direction, proving that they have become a viable quartet once again, and that is why Have You Heard receives 5 stars.

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